Affordable Care Act vs. UAE’s Social Health System

Extent of Coverage

The public health system in the Emirates includes both public and private medical services. State medical institutions operate free of charge and serve all the country’s citizens. As for private clinics, there is a fairly extensive network of specialized clinics and medical institutions in the Emirates. Here medical services are provided for cash or under the terms of a medical insurance policy. Both public and private medical institutions operate in the country. Today, the UAE has earned a reputation as a state with an incredibly high level of national health system, which has made the country an international center of medical tourism. As of 2018, the average life expectancy was already 77 years. Medical expenses of the local population are fully or partially covered by insurance. Residents of the country must have insurance issued by the employer. The amount of coverage depends on the cost of the insurance policy.

Method of Financing

Healthcare is regulated by both the Federal Government and the Government of the Emirates. In 2018, healthcare expenditures amounted to 50.3 billion dirhams (3.4% of GDP), and they are expected to grow to 53 billion dirhams. Financing is carried out at the expense of taxes collected. All medical institutions and clinics in the United Arab Emirates, both private and public, are equipped with modern equipment. In addition, public clinics in some Emirates have the best medical equipment globally and are ready to offer the services of highly qualified specialists in a variety of areas.

The UAE, especially Dubai, advertises itself as a place where you can get high-quality private medical care. At the same time, the price corresponds to the quality, and the cost of medical care increases annually by about 13%.

Coming to Dubai for medical purposes has become easier than ever – medical tourists can now book their entire medical trip online with the Dubai Health Experience.

Federal – State Government Relationship

The United Arab Emirates (abbreviated UAE) became a constitutional federation in 1971. In the following years, the United Arab Emirates reached the ranking of the richest federations in the world thanks to profitable oil exports. In the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates is a representation of a liberal state, which tolerates other cultures and beliefs, but this statement causes fierce controversy. The UAE consists of seven emirates, each of which has its leader (emir) and has the authority to manage its resources autonomously.

Relationship with Existing Programs

UAE citizens are insured under the Thiqa program. Citizens receive a Thiqa card, which gives them full access to a large number of both private and public medical institutions in the Daman network. To apply, you must be a UAE citizen and be between 18 and 75. In addition, applicants must undergo Weqaya screening through the Abu Dhabi Department of Health. Dubai Health Insurance Act No. 11 requires all residents to have a level of health insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum benefits set by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). The responsibility for health insurance lies with the employer (not the employee). Additionally, as stated by the law, an employer can not deduct from an employee’s salary to provide health insurance.

UAE citizens residing in Dubai have access to the Saada program. It provides insurance coverage to citizens who do not use any public health program in Dubai. Saada users can receive treatment at many DHA medical centers and private providers. UAE citizens have the opportunity to opt-out of their private healthcare program and join a government program.

Methods of Review and Control

In the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the employer or sponsor is responsible for ensuring that an employee has private health insurance. In addition, insurance for dependents starts at about 599 dirhams. It depends on their age and what procedures and options they would like to include in the insurance. Every insurance company works differently when making claims, so it is always best to check with them first. As a rule, if there is a medical problem or a visit, a person must first contact the company to find out if the treatment is included in the insurance coverage. The UAE Insurance Authority has a list of all insurers registered in the country, so anyone can check insurance validity.

Organizational Form to Administer the Overall Program

In the UAE, the application is regulated by the main bodies of the Health Authority and Health Services Companies by the state. At the same time, it is the responsibility of companies to implement and follow the policies specified in the mandatory healthcare sponsorship acts for employees under certain criteria. On the part of the companies, Human Resources and the company’s management are building a framework that allows regulating relations with employees following all relevant norms and principles. When obtaining visas for employees, insurance is one of the requirements, which allows the state to track the actions of companies in relation to sponsoring employees (Al-Shamsi, 2018). The same minimum insurance regulation applies to tourists, investors, freelancers, family visas, and other types of visas in the UAE.


Al-Shamsi, H. O. (2018). Expatriates with cancer diagnosis in the United Arab Emirates, hanging on the edge. J Cancer Prev Curr Res, 9(5), 257-258. Web.

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